Cycling enthusiasts say Lexington is moving in the right direction as it looks to become more bike friendly, but there’s still a long road ahead. Now, city leaders hope riders will use their phones to help steer future improvements.
It’s just after six, the weather is cooperating, and around 25 riders – from beginner to pro – are about to take an hour-long evening trek from North Limestone to the University of Kentucky campus and back.
"Today is actually going to be on road bike commuting, so of course have fun but be safe," Jay Scott Corbin de Baschemin with My City Bikes announces.
The event is dubbed Life is a Cycle and the goal is to educate riders on the best routes and best practices in a city that’s still finding its way when it comes to accommodating bikers.
Katie Keys is strapping her nine-month-old in the child seat, a process she says has become routine.
"I've hardly missed a day since pregnancy or when he was born," she reports.
As for Lexington's cyclist offerings, Keys says what’s missing is connectivity.
"I feel like we're making a lot of good improvements, but I still think we have a long way to go, especially with some of the arteries once you get away from downtown," she explains. "There are great bike routes in certain places, but trying to navigate from one to the other can be kind of treacherous."
Keys is exactly the type of person planners want to connect with as they map out the city’s next Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. And these days, government officials know it’s all about options. Riders can attend public meetings, take an online survey, or draw up the improvements they would like to see on an interactive map.
Also – you guessed it – there’s an app for that.
Scott Thompson with the Metropolitan Planning Organization whips his phone out and demonstrates. Love To Ride app users can login and log their rides across town, sending the data, along with a quick description of the reason for the trip, to city planners.
"We do get to see that so-and-so in this age range, this gender, was here and it lets us make better decisions about how we build infrastructure," he says.
Bikers who track their rides through the app during this month's bike challenge are even eligible for prizes, like biking gear and movie passes. But while the city works to better respond to the demand for biking lanes, pathways, and other amenities, they also hope events like Life is a Cycle have a two-pronged effect, educating both bikers and drivers alike.
"The more people that are on bikes, the safer it becomes," Thompson says. "People start to recognize it in their everyday commutes to work in their vehicles."
Find out more here.